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May 11, 2018 11:30 AM, EDT

The ‘Other’ Components: Oft Ignored, But Important

Engines. Brakes. Tires. These are among the major components of a Class 8 truck that tend to get the most attention in the transportation industry and in the trade press that covers it. You can read about one of these on page A10 in this issue of Equipment and Maintenance Update.

Fran Matso Lysiak

Lysiak

But earlier this year, as I was pondering story ideas for this May-June issue, I asked myself: Which truck parts, perhaps the underappreciated ones, or ones that are much less talked about but nevertheless can be just as critical to a truck’s operation, haven’t been addressed in recent years by an in-depth feature story for E&MU?

As it turns out, the answers to that question are a great source of story ideas for this publication. The result for this issue? Fan drives — the topic of the story that starts on page A4.

One fleet manager who commented for this story as reported by the writer said he “doesn’t want to spend any unnecessary time thinking about fan drives” when he’s got many thousands of commercial vehicles to maintain, but there are a variety of perspectives in the industry on which type of fan drive is the best choice.

Read this story to learn more about the perhaps often ignored — but still important — fan drive, the mechanism that powers the fan that cools a truck’s engine and the three options out there today.

There are other ways for editors and reporters to come up with stories, of course. Among them are reading voraciously, attending industry conferences, scanning the press releases that arrive in our e-mail inboxes daily and considering the many pitches we receive from public relations representatives as well.

And then, there are things that are just too big to ignore. This category includes electric trucks, considered by many to be the future of this industry. Last year, this publication devoted almost an entire issue to electric trucks, particularly in light of new players such as Tesla Inc. and Nikola Motor Co. jumping into the truck manufacturing business.

This time around, however, attending an industry event provided additional insights on electric trucks. At the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting earlier this year, I interviewed Jim Johnston, fleet reliability manager with PepsiCo, who discussed an important consideration for plug-in electrics: Because a high-voltage charging system is added to the vehicle, “you’re maintaining both the vehicle and a charging system,” he said. “You’ve got to plug it into the wall, so now you have to maintain the wall because that’s now your fuel pump.”

And thus, another trucking equipment maintenance story was born, and it landed at the top of page A1 for this issue.

TMC’s largest annual gathering also generated another story idea, this time on the topic of trailers. Transport Topics reported from the event that Wabash National Corp. was renewing its trailer body design “using advanced composite panels to add strength, increase thermal efficiency and save weight.”

I thought this deserved a more in-depth look as well. As a result, trailer composites also landed on page A1 of this issue.

Send in your ideas to me at flysiak@ttnews.com on what truck parts (or trailer parts for that matter!) are worthy of being covered and why. You may see your idea appear as a feature story in an upcoming issue of Equipment & Maintenance Update.